Localization initiatives can only be as successful as the overall international strategy the powers the forward. Let me unpack that.
Where does a Localization Team belong in an organization? Is it a part of Global Marketing? Is it a part of Product? After-sales or go-to-market?
Change is tough. Even positive change can be challenging to handle. Why is change so challenging, and how can we make it better?
1) Change Triggers Fight/Flight Response
New things are dangerous things. We don't know them. So we fear them. It's that simple. Change is like looking at the contours of a shadow at night. As we cannot understand it's details and more delicate shapes, we project onto that shadow our worst fears or our most wishful thinking. And just like a Rorschach change reveals a lot more about us than it does about the actual impacted items themselves. The dual nature of change, raises our alert systems and puts us in fight/flight response. Unless you are enlightened, or on some severe opiates, any transformation will deterministically place you in fight/flight response, which will trigger all kinds of stress hormones and set you off in a defensive pathway since its inception. Not a great way to start, is it?
2) Change Puts The Future on Wheels
The unknown aspect of change heightens our perspective that the future is up for grabs. And typically, not in a good way. It's as if the very fabric of our microverse becomes under attack and challenges the most reassuring anchors we have created in our lives to promote a sense of well-being. The workaround is to lean into the unknown. Yes, there is nothing you can know about the future. That's not necessarily a bad thing. It's only bad as long as that notion rubs against the idea of thinking you know what the future holds or expecting specific outcomes. As soon as you let go of that and lean into the fact that the future is on wheels, and that is the very essence of life, embracing change, can become more feasible.
3) Change Requires Effort to Adapt
Your perceptive apparatus is know overwhelmed with new stimuli. That in itself consumes energy. But what consumes even more mental bandwidth and power are the mental calculations that you go through to try to adapt to the change in the best possible way and increase the likelihood of your survival at the end of all this change. There is not much that can be done here other than expect this to happen. Expect to spend more energy and focus on replenishing. Sleep more or at least with more inner peace, eat better and more nutritious food. Be extra gentle to yourself with small gestures. A kind attitude towards your self will do leaps and bounds in terms of how you handle change.
Change can and typically does bring about the worst aspects of our being. Stress response will trigger defensive sometimes even hostile attitudes as a lot more of our subconscious is rigged and governed by fear than by a fundamental belief that everything will be alright. Deep down, we know we are going to die and we know that because of that nothing will ever be okay, and at the same time because of that fundamental knowledge buried deep down in some cave within our soul, we have the power to fully liberate ourselves from the claws of the future as an unknown threat. Take a step back, take a few breaths, check yourself and proceed with kindness, above and foremost with yourself.
A Boss will set the expectations, provide the tools to reach those goals and oversee the execution. That's the traditional approach right. And a good boss will set clear expectations, provide great tools and constructive feedback. Right? Wrong. At least for me.
Sipping some brandy by the fire. Fire crackling in the fire place and the cozy embrace of a winter cabin. Peace...that's how I think people envision localization maturity: Some kind of heaven or ultimate place that people get to when they do everything right in their localization departments. All processes and responsibilities are clear, tools work seamlessly, the delivery model is flawless and any wrinkles are quickly and effortlessly ironed out. As tempting as this sounds, striving for this will ultimately create more problems than it will solve.
Localization is a complicated name people use to be able to charge more for translation. Yes, this thesis is a gross and ridiculous oversimplification in addition to being factually incorrect, you will argue. You could say that localization is far more than translation for it involves:
It's 4:42 pm on a Wednesday. We are scheduled to launch globally on Monday but one of my support engineers opened critical bugs regarding translation quality in one of my product languages. It's like code red. Alarms going off, automatic doors sealing themselves off. This is major!
Why Localization Is Important: And the Terrible Job We Have Done over the Years at Cultivating Its Value
Localization is crucial to global corporations. There simply is no doing global business without it. But somehow over the years, our industry has not done a good job at showcasing this relevance and promoting its own value.
Time and time again I see people trying to solve their localization management problems by bringing people in-house. The translation quality is bad. Bring in in-house reviewers. The translation quality is still bad. Bring in in-house translators. Project Management is awful. Bring in in-house project managers. And so it goes.
Running a localization program at any company is no small feat. Executives rarely give a damn. It's not a revenue generator, but it could be a revenue blocker. It doesn't solve problems, but it can introduce a myriad of them. Life is not easy for a localization manager.